I may not be ready to reveal my favorite movies or able to share my favorite albums or willing to divulge my favorite sex positions of 2011, but I can sure as heck reveal my 10 favorite podcasts of the last year. When I'm not updating this journal, feeding my child mashed prunes, or making love to my wife in our #5 favorite sexual position, I'm listening to podcasts. I don't know how many podcasts I listen to regularly, but I can tell you that it's right around ten, because this list was fairly easy to compile. Before I share my Top Ten however, let me honor those podcasts that I like, but not quite enough to put them on the list. We'll give them, what I like to call, an "honorable mention."
HONORABLE MENTION: Comedy Film Nerds; Yeah, It's That Bad; Bloody Good Horror; The /Filmcast; Reasonable Discussions; Analyze Phish
Better luck next year. Now let's move on to some winners!
10. The Legacy Music Hour-- A video game music show that wouldn't sound out of place on NPR. For: 8-bit/16-bit music snobs.
9. Tell 'Em Steve-Dave-- Kevin Smith's high school chums gather together each week at Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash in Red Bank, NJ, to harass a small Chinese man, among other things. For: fans of Kevin Smith who are sick of Kevin Smith being on so many podcasts; fans of Kevin Smith's friends (DID YOU KNOW: Tell 'Em Steve-Dave is going to be a reality show on the AMC network next year? It will be called Comics' Men and we'll be sure to let you know what we think about it. Right now, we are cautiously optimistic.)
8. How Did This Get Made?-- One of the three Earwolf podcasts on our list. On How Did This Get Made?, Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael watch a bad/weird/batshit-insane movie and talk about it, usually over each other. For: fans of bad movies; fans of listening to comedians interrupt each other
7. WTF with Marc Maron-- Still one of the best podcasts for comedy nerds. For: comedy nerds
6. Doug Loves Movies-- Doug Benson still puts out my favorite movie-themed podcast. You don't really learn anything about movies or anything, but it's always fun to hear what the last movie Jeff Garlin saw in the theater was. For: fans of movie guessing games; name tag fanatics
5. Extra Hot Great-- As a pop-culture obsessive, Extra Hot Great is essential listening. If you like TV, movies, and weirdo pop-cultural ephemera as much as I do, you need to check it out. Immediately. Oh, and Game Time!!! For: snarky, pop-culture critics with their own pop-culture skewering blog named after an electrified flightless bird
4. Who Charted?-- Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack count down the charts with various guests from the world of comedy. Simply, the best podcast to not be in the top three. For: fans of charts
3. The Heidi and Frank Show-- The only podcast I pay for. Heidi Hamilton, Frank Kramer, and Erik Scott Smith pump out six shows a week (!!!) without a single slip-up in quality. Consistently hilarious and informative--I get most* of my news from the show--The Heidi and Frank Show is must-listen podcasting at it's best. For: people who miss true "hot talk-" style radio
2. Comedy Bang Bang-- The podcast formerly known as Comedy Death Ray, CBB is the place to go for the very best improv comedy from the very best comedians on the planet, all overseen by Scott Aukerman. For: comedy nerds and nerdettes alike
1. The Best Show on WFMU-- So, this one probably isn't a surprise to anyone who knows me. I've been singing the praises of Tom Scharpling's Best Show since I discovered it last year. In private conversation I've described The Best Show as "pretty much my favorite thing ever," until I was reminded by my lovely wife that we have a daughter, who, fun fact, was born on a Tuesday night, just minutes before that night's Best Show. For: lovers of fine and funny things; fans of prog rock loving puppets
It's the end of another year and that means a "best of" list, but since I didn't listen to enough albums or read enough books released in 2011 and I don't post my Top Ten film list until Oscar night, I don't have much on which to reflect. So, here is a random list of things I enjoyed this year. Enjoy or something.
1. Favorite Book Discovery of 2011:
The Hunger Games Trilogy
2. Favorite Musical Discovery of 2011 (Swedish heavy metal):
Ghost's Opus Eponymous
3. Favorite Musical Discovery of 2011 (Non-Swedish heavy metal):
Joanna Newsom's The Milk Eyed Mender
4. Best New TV Character (Comedy)
Schmidt (New Girl) (pictured here portraying Sexy Santa)
5. Best New TV Character (Drama):
Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke (Revenge)
6. Best Returning TV Character (Comedy):
Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
7. Best Returning TV Character (Drama):
Richard Harrow (Boardwalk Empire) (...but what's he gonna do without Jimmy???)
8. Worst New TV Character:
Prince Louis (Gossip Girl)
9. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia MVP of 2011:
Dennis (seen here collecting his "tools")
10. Best TacoCorp Idea of 2011:
11. Favorite Movie of 2011 So Far:
Tomorrow: My 10 Favorite Podcasts of 2011 & GEP's Unanswered Questions Answered At Last!!!
What are you doing on the internet? You're running out of time to buy Christmas presents. Here are some last minute items you might want to consider, assuming your holiday budget is in the hundred thousands.
I'm not gonna lie: I love a good cigar. I love an OK cigar. But when you're purchasing an extravagant gift for a fancy friend, a Swisher Sweet from your local Wal-mart ain't gonna get you invited to any garden parties. This Christmas, you need to go big. You need a box of His Majesty’s Reserve from Gurkha. A box of 20 cost a measly $15,000. What were you going to do with that $15,000 dollars anyway? If your answer isn't "put a down payment on a yacht," go on and buy your friends these cigars. Now. Before they become super sold out.
When I'm smoking a fine cigar, there's nothing I like more, you know, other than blowing smoke in a homeless person's face, than a delicious, mind-numbingly expensive wine to go with it. The thing is, when you're drinking Chambord Liqueur Royale de France, it's not really the black raspberry liqueur--which is probably totally gross-- that you're paying for, but the bottle:
Chambord by Donald Edge is a handcrafted Royal Orb bedecked with gold and gems. It features more than 1,100 brilliant, princess and pear cut diamonds as well as a single emerald cut diamond. As if that wasn’t enough, the bottle also features a number of the finest pearls. All of these gems are set in the bottle’s 18k gold embellishments.
I know, that sounds bat-shit crazy, but check this out: a bottle only costs two-million dollars. See? That's not so bad.
3. The Chopard 201-carat Watch
There's a watch in there, I promise. You've just got to squint a little bit to see it. And that's what a classy lady (or gentleman?) wants in a wristwatch: something they have to squint at like an idiot. But, seriously, it's like I've always said: it's not the size of the watch that counts, but, rather, the amount of gaudy diamonds surrounding the watch, thereby, making the watch face almost impossible to read that counts.
These gold-dipped basketball shoes are only $5,405. That's a drop in the bucket (basketball pun intended...there is a basketball pun there, right?) to a classy playa like you. These shoes are totally not ugly. Whoever you gift them to will probably wear them all the time on account of them being so utterly not ugly as shit. Money well spent.
5. A horse
Little girls want ponies--and typically, a pony puzzle or My Little Pony action figure will do--but adults, especially classy, well-to-do adults want, neigh, expect horses. And everybody knows that Germany has the best horses (duh!). This year I'm doing all of my horse shopping at German Horse Center.com. They've got horses from $19,000 to almost $200,000. That might look a little expensive, but, c'mon, it's Christmas. Open up your pocketbook, Ebenezer.
Here are just a few of the horses currently for sale:
--Quell Surprise ($39,000): "A very versatile and also manageable young horse." (Will respond favorable to sexual advances)
--Sir Donnerhall x Rohdiamant ($59,000): "The learning speed of this mare is especially noteworthy. Lively and very easy to ride." (Kind of a slut)
--All or None ($78,000): "Highly placed in A, L and M class (1.30 m) show jumping tests for young horses." (If you knew what A, L, and M stood for, you'd have the biggest boner right now)
--Donatella ($39,000): "A beautifully marked, graceful black mare with very good gaits." (And as we all know, once you go black...I'm grossing myself out now)
6. Classy Escort
Speaking of horse-faced mammals you can have sex with, did you know that former wrestler Chyna (AKA Joan Marie Laurer, AKA Chyna Doll, AKA "The dude with the tits, right?") is an escort now? It's true according to the internet. But if you want to spend some alone time with this star of stage (well, wrestling ring) and screen (well, homemade porno), it's gonna cost ya. You better be prepared to lay down $3,500 for a single hour of Chyna's precious, precious time, and $1,500 for each hour that follows. But this is a Christmas present and the recipient of said present deserves a whole weekend. Easily done, as long as you've got $20,000. You've got $20,000 dollars, don't you? Give the gift of uncomfortable conversation and dirty looks this Christmas. God bless us everyone.
20. "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Remix)" (Dr. Elmo & Frank "Killer Bee" Martin)
Know how you make one of the holiday season's most excrementitious songs even worse? Let someone named "Killer Bee" Martin remix it with GarageBand, that's how.
"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" was not funny when I was a kid and it's not funny now. And I'm pretty sure Grandpa is behind the whole murder and subsequent cover-up.
Funnier things for Grandma to get run over by: a clown car; the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile; that weird decapitation wall from Caligula; a fat kid in the buffet line at CiCi's Pizza; Billy Joel.
21. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Drum and Bass Remix)"
Speaking of shitty GarageBand remixes...
22. "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" (Bing Crosby)
Finally, something classy for the holidays. Oh, did I write "classy?" I meant "creepy." Every square inch of Bing Crosby's take on this holiday standard is just dripping with creep. From his insistence on being the only one wishing anyone a Merry Christmas in the opening stanza to his repeated demands for figgy pudding, Crosby keeps things brief and frightening. I tell you what, this guy saunters up to my front porch and starts crooning this Christmas ditty, I'll give him anything he wants just so he'll go away and never return.
23. "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" (Gayla Peevey)
Oh my God, shut up!
Things I Want For Christmas: every copy of this record smashed to pieces, melted down, refashioned into records, and smashed again; a time-traveling hippopotamus to maul 10-year-old Gayla Peevey until she promises never to record this song in the first place; the two minutes and thirty-nine seconds it took to listen to this song back.
24. "Oim Gettin' Nooting For Christmas" (Two British kids)
No, no, NO! Dumb American kids are supposed to do this on national TV, not cultured European lads.
Who am I kidding? There are dumb kids all over the globe. And these two are about as cultured as a couple of Cockney chimney sweeps. This song is awful, though I could barely hear it over Gayla Peevey's voice still ringing in my ears. Damn you, Gayla!!!!!
I don't know which of these two versions of "Jingle Bells" I detest more. Probably Basshunter's. It sounds like the kind of song a high school cheerleading squad would dance to at a holiday-themed pep rally. I expected Jersey Shore's Pauly D to burst through the door, fist pumping and dangling a sprig of mistletoe above his crotch at any moment. And Trey Songz and Flo Rida's take on "Jingle Bells" was just cheesy enough to make it essential holiday music hating.
Believe it or not, Christian readers, there are more holidays in December than Christmas. That's why the cashier at your local Hallmark wished you a "Happy Holiday" this year. It's not because Hallmark employees are trained to hate Christmas and all it stands for, but because this is a big ol' country full of different faiths and, I don't know, maybe making people uncomfortable during the holiday season isn't best for business. Of course, there is still President Obama's War on Christmas to contend with, so your righteous angry is not completely unjustified. Keep on fightin' that good fight.
But, so what? So there are other holidays jockeying for airtime in December. We all know Christmas is the best, so everyone else should just suck it. That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't shower your hellbound friends with stuff they'll enjoy. Just make sure they know it's a Christmas present though, and not something for whatever stupid-ass holiday they celebrate. Allow GEP to offer up a few suggestions:
Your Satanist friends don't want cutesy little elves or jolly farting Santa Clauses or manger scenes fashioned out of glass. They want fresh cat carcasses and virgin's blood and Ghost albums. That's what Satanists are into, right? Robes, maybe? Torches? Gift cards? They eat at McAlister's, right? Who doesn't? The sweet tea is delicious.
But, hey, it's Christmas. You can't wrap up a cows heart on December 1st and expect it to stay fresh and ritual-worthy until the 25th. So mix a little adorable with your sinister this Christmas and get him/her a plush demon to squeeze when the winter nights get a little too cold or the New Year's Eve blood sacrifice gets a little too intense. So cute!
Sure, the kids get to see the menorah every night, up there on the mantle (Does it go on the mantle? Help me out here.) with its candles lit, but what they really want to do is snuggle with it in bed. Christian kids have teddy bears. Jewish kids have plush menorahs, I assume. You should probably just make that assumption as well and get your Jewish friends' kids this soft, huggable menorah. Perfect for saying "I don't understand your religion, so, here's this thing."
We all know what Muslims want for Christmas: hilarious t-shirts!!! But what hilarious, Islam-themed t-shirt is best? There are quite literally too many to choose from. I guess, you should take it on a Muslim friend by Muslim friend basis, but I don't think you can wrong with the "Muslim fun-damentalist" t-shirt. Get it? Fun-damentalist! Oh, that's classic.
But, seriously, your Muslim friends probably don't want any Christmas presents since they don't celebrate Christmas, so why don't you just send them a nice holiday card or some Shari's Berries or something.
4. For your Buddhist friend: A Buddha cup for booze drinks
You want enlightenment, son?! Well, things can't get any more illuminated then when you're sucking a fruit-blended girly drink outta a Buddha's belly. Transcendent and delicious! Your Buddhist friends will thank you in this life and the next.
You might find this shocking, but not everybody in your life believes the same things you do about God, the origins of mankind, and the creation of this big ball of water and dirt we call home. Some of these people might be sitting next to you in your favorite pew right now! Non-believers are everywhere--your school, your church, your workplace, your favorite all-you-can-eat fried fish buffet--and most of them just want to live their lives, have a little fun from time to time, and not have to put up with your efforts to proselytize them every day. They'd rather just agree to disagree and get back to their grocery shopping.
Some of these people--let's call them "atheists"--however, want to stick it to Christians every chance they can get. For that special Christian-baiting atheist on your Christmas list, why not this stylish shirt in the tee-style? It's a Jesus fish on a charcoal grill! Get it? Neither do I!
We assure you, there is nothing in this box
6. For your Jehovah's Witness friend: Nothing
What do you get the Jehovah's Witness who has everything? Nothing! That's right, Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate Christmas (OR birthdays OR anything) like everybody else. I don't know what they do on December 25th, but if I could guess, I'd say they sit around the dining room table dressed in drab turtleneck sweaters and stare solemnly at one another over a meal of lukewarm take-out fast food fried chicken. Again, this is only a guess.
7. For your Scientologist friend: Just kidding! Scientologists don't have any friends!
It's Christmastime and you want some appropriate holiday fare, right? Well, what could provide your family with more Christmasy fun then a collection of moldy old cartoons from the 30's, 40's and 50's, purported to be certified classics? Turns out, almost anything else actually.
I expect a certain level of quality when I see the word "classic" attached to something. Classics are stories everybody loves; tales we grow up knowing as if they were part of our very DNA. I can't pinpoint the exact moment I heard the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the first time, I simply knew that when the air got cold and my dad lugged our Christmas tree out of the basement, it was time to start singing about Christmas's most unlikely little hero. Rudolph is a classic character and, as far as TV specials go, you don't get any more classic than Rankin/Bass's stop motion triumph, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That was my favorite part of Christmas growing up. Sure, I used to be deathly afraid of the Abominable Snow Monster and hide behind the couch whenever he lurched across the screen, but I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, the version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that opens Christmas Classics Vol 1 is not the Rankin/Bass one. I'm not sure who put this one together, but I have a theory that it was belched up half-formed from the pits of Hell. I'm probably way off. It is a theory after all.
This Rudolph is not featured in Christmas Classics Vol 1. Sorry, everybody in the world.
In Classics' version of Rudolph, reindeer have conquered the Earth, a la Planet of the Apes. The reindeer walk on two legs, celebrate religious holidays, and maintain their own Roman-style coliseum, I assume for gladiator fights, though we only see it used by Santa (the last surviving human being on the planet???) to thank Rudolph for guiding his sleigh through the fog.
I know what you're saying: "If there are no more humans, who is Santa delivering presents to?" Easy. Other animals. On the aforementioned foggy Christmas Eve, Santa is seen dropping presents off for all manner of woodland creatures, none of them even remotely human, unless wearing pajamas makes a bunny rabbit a tad human-ish. Sorry, Jack, but we don't exist in this nightmare world. Santa is the only one with memories of humanity's past. What he chooses to do with this knowledge, we may never know, but this seems as good a time as any to discuss Santa's house.
In "Rudolph," Santa lives in a cliffside fortress like Skeletor. It's creepy. When his drawbridge opens into the yawning maw that is the pitch black crevasse that protects his castle from the bloodthirsty animals who've eradicate humankind but have continued to live in our now empty cities and adopted our methods of dress and two-legged locomotion, I half expected some sort of Dracula-style Santa-bat to soar into the night sky. Like Man-Bat with a fluffy white beard and a sack full of toys.
While "Rudolph's" Santa hangs out in digs more appropriate for a Bond villain, the Santa in our second cartoon "classic" lives a bit more humbly (see also: North Pole trash). In "Santa's Surprise," Santa's house is revealed to be nothing more than a shabby, cluttered chalet. The kitchen sink is piled with dirty dishes, soiled laundry lies in stinky piles here and there, and Santa sleeps in a twin bed much to small for his immense girth. Luckily, a collection of kids from all over the world have smuggled themselves onto Santa's sleigh and as soon as the fat man is asleep, they break in and start cleaning up the joint. It's kind of sweet. Oh, and totally racist.
To be fair, "Santa's Surprise" was made in 1947, so many of it's racist overtones can be forgiven, but is there really a reason the little girl from Hawaii had to be topless? One, I've been to Hawaii and I've watched women hula dance. While it is true that they wear grass skirts, it is not true--as far as I saw--that their breasts are exposed. They wear bikini tops or, I guess in extreme cases, coconut shells. Two, this particular little girl is in the North Pole. She's wearing a grass skirt and, literally, nothing else. How is she even alive? Yes, Blacks and Asians are both represented cruelly and unfairly, but for Pete's sake, let the little Hawaiian girl put a damn shirt on!
"Santa's Surprise" also marks the first appearance of Little Audrey, but who gives a shit. This thing is racist-er than hell.
Another recurring theme in the cartoons that make up Christmas Classics is extreme poverty, usually associated with orphans. Yes, apparently in the old days, orphans were abandoned in shabby wooden shacks and left to, I don't know, die, I guess. Grampy--one of Betty Boop's regular co-stars--happens by one of these orphan death cottages in "Christmas Comes But Once A Year." Before ol' Grampy enters the picture, a houseful of orphans awake on Christmas morning to a roomful of beautifully wrapped presents. It's a Christmas miracle! The orphans have too many toys and stuffed animals then they know what to do with! It doesn't take long, however, to see that the toys they've been given--presumably by Santa Claus, as there appears to be no adult supervision whatsoever--are cheap and shoddily built. Everything falls apart and the orphans collapse into fits of crying. Grampy sees this pitiful display, lets himself in through the kitchen window, and builds new toys for the orphans, using common household items. Items, I might add, that the orphans need to prepare food. The only food in the orphan shack of sadness though seems to be popcorn, which Grampy uses to make garland. All the orphans are happy and appreciative. My guess is that they all died shortly after Grampy's visit, having no food or anything else. Oh, Grampy.
"Christmas Comes But Once A Year" opens with the most depressing rendition of "The First Noel" you've ever heard. Couple that with crying orphans and you'd got yourself a recipe for a holiday suicide.
The less said about "Snow Foolin'," the next cartoon on the program, the better. I will quickly mention that it does feature an ice-skating, cigarette-smoking penguin and a seemingly endless "Jingle Bells" sing-a-long. Also, a chicken calls one of her eggs "hen fruit." Have you ever heard that before in your life? Hen fruit? Ick.
The next cartoon, "Hector's Hectic Life," concerns a dog named Princie who must keep three precocious puppies in line or else he's out in the streets, which led me to the question, "Who the fuck is Hector?"
I've already mentioned my love of Rudolph, but who are some other beloved Christmastime characters. You've got Santa. Frosty the Snowman. Buddy the Elf from Elf. Baby Jesus.
How 'bout Jack Frost? Anybody clamoring for more cartoons about him? I wasn't, but we get one here. I'm not entirely sure what makes 1934's "Jack Frost" a Christmas classic. Christmas isn't mentioned once, in fact, there's an entire scene featuring singing Jack-O-Lanterns and a scatting scarecrow. There is a dude with a beard, but he sure ain't jolly. Old Man Winter is depicted as a leering, drippy ghoul who tortures animals just because he can. Of course, the animal he chases around during the cartoon is a whiny, irritating baby grizzly bear who thinks he's better than everybody else. Stupid baby grizzly.
After Jack Frost saves the day with this magical paint brush, it's back to unsupervised orphans and blatant racism. In "The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives," a pants-less waif is visited by a tubbier-than-usual Santa Claus with singing Tourette's. Santy whisks the orphan away to his haunted workshop and things get pretty racist pretty fast. The cartoon ends with Santa's haunted toys and his guest orphan setting fire to a Christmas tree. They all perish in the fire and Santa collapses into the snow, sobbing, until he dies of exposure.
Nah! I'm just joshing! The orphan puts the fire out with a bagpipe full of water. What a resourceful orphan! Christmas Classics Vol. 1 wraps up with a cartoon I've seen many times that never fails to depress the shit out of me. Seriously, have you seen "Somewhere in Dreamland?" This thing is dire, man. That being said, I actually kind of like this cartoon, though I have no idea why it's been included in this collection.
The story opens with two destitute children collecting firewood in town. They are dressed in rags--the boy doesn't even have shoes on his feet and it's snowing!--and some local merchants feel all bad about it and stuff. The brother and sister return home to their mother--phew! no orphans for once, though that mother of theirs doesn't exactly look well--and enjoy a dinner of stale bread and water. Then it's off to their sad little beds with their moth-eaten blankets. The brother and sister sing a dumb little song to each other about hooking up in Dreamland and then--BOOM--we're there! Dreamland is a wondrous place with fields of ice cream cones, a syrup river, and all the doughnuts, cake, candy, and popcorn a growing child could ever want. Because that is what starving almost-orphans want: junk food. Anyway, the kids wake up to a kitchen table full of food, including a freshly roasted turkey, donated by the aforementioned merchants. The kids go straight for the sweets however. Don 't eat those sweets, almost-orphans! You'll rot out whatever teeth you might have left in your oozing, infected gums.
I had the same thought at the end of "Somewhere in Dreamland" this time that I always do: That's nice of the local butcher, baker, and toy-maker to provide this poor family with delicious food and fun toys, but are they going to do it every day? It's not like after this one meal, these kids will never need to eat again. And what's going to happen when their mother inevitably dies of starvation? She looks like an emaciated Olive Oyl! What, is Santy gonna pick them up and drop them off at his racist toy shop for the night? That place is a tinderbox, man! What happens if the tree gets set on fire again and there aren't any bagpipes handy? This is what I think about at night.
(Christmas Classics Vol. 1 also features a reading of "The Night Before Christmas," but by that point, I couldn't take anymore.)
There's no way Santa can do this Christmas Eve present delivery thing by himself anymore. He's thousands of years old, morbidly obese, and probably suffering from full on dementia. The man is a mess! Doesn't mean he can't pull off the job, but maybe he gets a little back-up this year. That's why I've put together Claus's Eleven. Let's take a look at the crew.
1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
You know Dasher and Dancer and Blah Blah and Who Cares...Rudolph is the only flying reindeer that matters, son! Rudolph can fly! He's got a bright red nose that can cut through the densest of fogs! He has a sweet, girly singing voice! What can't this little rascal do? Any Christmastime crew worth it's sugarplums starts with Rudolph. End of story.
2. Knecht Ruprecht
Knecht Ruprecht, or Knight Rupert, is kinda, like, Santa's old drinking buddy. They're both elderly gentleman with shaggy beards who enjoy children and the magic of Christmas. They both bring presents to children: Santa the latest bikes, trains, and video games (the perennial top three toys kids want--LOOK IT UP!); Rupert apples and nuts. Of course, Rupert's a little more focused on the religious end of the Christmas spectrum. See, Rupert doesn't care if kids are naughty or nice, he just wants to know if they pray or not. If they do, they get a handful of walnuts. If not, they get beaten down with a sack full of ashes. Merry Christmas, you little heathen. Rupert will help Santa stay focused on the true "reason for the season," which I've been told is Jesus.
Krampus is another one of Santa's buddies from the old country. He punishes bad kids by basically scaring the ever-loving crap out of them. More specifically, Krampus will abscond with children from Santa's naughty list and eat them for his Christmas dinner. Now that's holiday fun! For Zware Piet's sake, look at that thing! Why Santa hangs around with a blood-hungry goat demon is beyond me, but what are you gonna do? Be good for goodness sake, I'll bet, now that you know Krampus is waiting in the shadows, his kidnapping sack at the ready.
4. Zwarte Piet (Black Pete)
Black Pete acts as sort of a bodyguard for Kris Kringle: keeping naughty children behind the rope and doling out knuckle sandwiches when the need arises.
He's also more than a little racist.
We've all seen it in countless movies, television shows, and commercials: some kid--or anthropomorphic chocolate candy--waits up to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus and either a) has a magical experience he/she can treasure forever, b) prompts Santa to faint after revealing himself to be a talking piece of candy with arms and legs, or c) becomes a dangerous psychopath. It never turns out well ("Magical experiences" are overrated. Trust me.). This is where Jigglypuff comes in.
Y'all remember Jigglypuff. It's that Pokemon thing that sings people to sleep. Here's all Santa has to do to avoid traumatizing the world's children and himself: land his sleigh on the roof, toss a Pokeball containing one amped up Jigglypuff down the ol' chimney, whisper the magic words, "Jigglypuff, I choose you," and let Jiggles do its thing. It whips out a microphone from thin air, performs a song or two--the lyrics, of course, always the word "Jigglypuff" repeated over and over and over--and Santa is safe to descend, Jigglypuff having knocked out any snooping kids in the immediate vicinity. It's a Christmas plan that can't fail.
6. Wood Man
After years of humiliating defeat at the hands of Mega Man, Wood Man decides to embrace his destiny as a beloved Christmas icon: the yule log! Heck, there's already a snowman who sings and dances around, isn't it about time for an anthropomorphic yule log? And if a snowstorm situation threatens Santa, the sleigh, and the reindeer--the kind of storm even Rudolph is powerless to repel--Wood Man can throw up one of his patented leaf shields to protect everyone. Nothings gettin' through a leaf shield. Right?
7-11. The Santa Buddies (Rosebud, Buddha, Budderball, Mudbud, and B-Dawg)
What's cuter than a sleigh full of golden retriever puppies? Almost nothing. The Buddies will inarguably increase the cuteness factor of Santa's Christmas Eve flight. I can only imagine how haggard and frustrated Kris Kringle is after delivering presents to the first 3-billion children on his list. He's gonna need a litter of wise-cracking puppies to lift his spirits. (Note: I'm assuming that Santa would be into this sort of thing--talking puppies with colorful personalities. But you know what happens when we assume: talking puppies get tossed from flying sleighs.)
Two members of an atheist group in Leesburg, Virginia, added their own piece of "holiday flair" to the Loudoun County courthouse lawn this week: a skeleton dressed as Santa Claus nailed to a cross. Oh, fun.
1. Listen, I'm not going to lie: it's nice to see a mother and son spending quality time with one another. The holiday season is a time when families can come together and celebrate. Some families eat a ham, exchange presents, read the Christmas Story, and go to bed with visions of sugarplums and stuff. Others dress a skeleton up in Santa suit, nail said skeleton to a cross, and hang him outside of a courthouse. To each their own, I guess.
2. But, seriously, why is this necessary? Little kids have to walk by and see a rotted Santa corpse hanging from a Bible Times torture device just so you can remind the world that, in your opinion, God doesn't exist? Why you gotta drag Santa into this, man?
3. Here's what some atheist said about the display:
"The message to me at least," said Jonathan Weintraub, of the group NOVA Atheists, "is that the meaning of Christmas, which is about faith and family, is dead and has been replaced by commercialism."
Is that what it says, Mr. Weintraub? Is that what a skeletal Kris Kringle hanging from a poorly constructed wooden cross, leering creepily at passersby says to you? Actually, that makes sense, but only because it's so obvious and hackneyed.
I can be pretty hard on the religious sometimes. Why stop now? Here's Rick Perry's new thing:
1. You shouldn't be ashamed to be a Christian, Mr. Perry. However, you should be ashamed by the fact that you believe the biggest problem facing our nation's children is not being allowed to "openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school." What about poor nutrition? Sexual abuse? Bullying? Nope. It's not being allowed to lead a prayer in 3rd period Biology.
2. Who's stopping anybody from celebrating Christmas? It's them liberals, I bet. Danged liberals!
3. And guess what, kids? You can totally pray in school. That's right: it's totally allowed! I know weirdos like Rick Perry want you to believe that your teacher and your principal and the school board and President Obama hate your religion and will stop at nothing to keep you from praying, but they can't. See, you can say a prayer silently from your seat in the cafeteria or before a History test virtually anywhere else on campus. God can hear your thoughts. Come to think of it, that's scarier than Obama's non-existent War on Religion. Do you remember everything you thought about today? I bet some of it was totally gross.
4. Hey, Rick: We'll stop our War on Religion when religion stops its War on Common Sense. Sound fair?
Believe it or not, people like to read. I know! It's crazy, right? Regardless, people still enjoy books, so why not consider getting them one of these classics for Christmas this year.
Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back--Nothing says "Christmas" like a book about a four-year-old boy who dies on an operating table, takes a sweet tour of Heaven, and comes back to life with a plan to make millions of dollars off of a nation of dupes who eat this kinda pseudo-religious tripe up.
I'm kidding. He didn't die. He had a dream while he was undergoing surgery. A dream about Heaven. And guess what? Heaven was exactly like his father, a pastor, had probably described it to him night after night before bedtime. God is a giant who sits on a throne, Grandpa's there having the time of his afterlife, and Jesus has his very own horse. You know, all the stuff from the Bible.
Oh, the little boy allegedly also meets his miscarried sister in Heaven. I thought unbaptized children went straight to Hell and burned forever and ever. I'm calling shenanigans!
How to sum up Heaven is for Real? Oh, here you go:
Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.
That's right: Jesus took a break from riding his horse around long enough to tell a visiting four-year-old that he was planning an attack of some kind. That sounds like something Jesus would totally do. Ugh.
The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World--A six-year-old boy visits Heaven, this time as a result of a horrible automobile accident, and returns with 248-pages worth of lurid details:
An accident.A miracle.And a supernatural encounter that will give you new insights on Heaven, angels, and hearing the voice of God.
In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered a terrible car wreck. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex—and it seemed impossible that he could survive.
“I think that Alex has gone to be with Jesus,” a friend told the stricken dad.
When Alex awoke from a coma two months later, he had an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the unearthly music that sounded just terrible to a six-year-old. Of the angels who took him through the gates of Heaven itself. And, most amazing of all . . . of meeting and talking with Jesus.
The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is the true story of an ordinary boy’s most extraordinary journey. As you see Heaven and earth through Alex’s eyes, you’ll come away with new insights on miracles, life beyond this world, and the power of a father’s love.
What, no mention of Jesus' horse? Alex is a liar, man! How did this book of lies ever get published? Sick.
90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life--Sooooooooo, what's this one about?:
On the way home from a conference, Don Piper's car was crushed by a semi that crossed into his lane. Medical personnel said he died instantly. While his body lay lifeless inside the ruins of his car, Piper experienced the glories of heaven, awed by its beauty and music.
Ninety minutes after the wreck, while a minister prayed for him, Piper miraculously returned to life on earth with only the memory of inexpressible heavenly bliss. His faith in God was severely tested as he faced an uncertain and grueling recovery. Now he shares his life-changing story with you.
No kidding his faith in God was tested! Can you imagine? You get smashed to death, whisked up to Heaven where there's all this cool music and Grand Canyons everywhere and then--BAM!--there you are, back in your crushed, broken body, being re-taught how to walk and go to the bathroom by yourself. That's awful! How could this book be anything more than 208 pages of vitriol spewed at God?
It probably isn't. Mr. Piper probably had a good old time in Heaven. He was there for a whole 90 minutes. I bet he has a lot to say about it. Let's check one of the many reviews on Amazon to find out:
The title 90 Minutes in Heaven led me to believe that the book would be an extensive description of Piper's time in heaven. I was disappointed to find that less than 10% of the total pages in this book actually dealt with his alleged time in heaven. The majority of the book dealt with Piper's recovery in the hospital, his transition back to `normal' life, and the subsequent speaking ministry that he has enjoyed. Regrettably there was more detail given to his description of an enema than his time in heaven. I do not say this to be crass but to express personal disappointment with the promotion of the book as an expose on heaven and instead I got unmentionable details concerning such things as this. Seriously, it was gross.
So, a book titled 90 Minutes in Heaven is mostly about a dude be given an enema? Ew.
The Bill Wiese 23 Minutes In Hell Collection--Every book about near-death, out-of-body experiences can't be about taking a leisurely stroll down the golden streets and poking around in the cute little speciality boutiques that make up Heaven's Main Street. There is another place, you know. A terrible place. The most terrible place, really. And if you think about it, most of us are going to spend eternity there anyway--according to your born again aunt with the houseful of cats at least--so where's the guidebook for the doomed?
Not to worry. Christian author Bill Wiese died, went to Hell for some reason, and returned to Earth 23 minutes later. He wrote a book about his experience titled 23 Minutes In Hell: One Man's Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in that Place of Torment, which went on to become a New York Times Bestseller, proving that not only is reading still an extremely popular way to pass the time, but that stupid people read as much as smart people. Maybe more.
As a result of his brief stint in Hell, Wiese has decided he now knows most of the answers to humanity's most burning (heh, heh) questions about it. Questions like:
--Is Hell a literal burning place? (Yes) --Where is Hell? (Down) --Do you have a body in Hell? (A burning one) --Are there degrees of punishment in Hell? (Maybe) --Are there children in Hell? (It's mostly children) --Can demons torment people in Hell? (What else are the demons gonna do all day?) --What are the accommodations like in Hell? (Cramped) --How is the cell phone reception in Hell? (Not good) --Is there Wi-Fi in Hell? (Only at Starbucks) --Can "good" people go to Hell? (I didn't talk to everyone...I was only there 23 minutes...sheesh)
As you've probably figured out by now, 192 pages is nowhere near enough to describe 23 minutes anywhere, so Wiese followed up this book with Hell: Separate Truth from Fiction and Get Your Toughest Questions Answered and 23 Questions About Hell (which comes with a DVD!!!).
You know I once spent 45 minutes in Hell and I didn't even have to die. I call it the DMV! Am I right, people?
[You can purchase all of these titles and much better ones at amazon.com)